Denny’s Daily Zinger: Communicating Statistics

A world renowned author once asked the Welsh master of best-selling thrillers, Ken Follett, if he thinks about the reader when writes. Follett said he thought about the reader all the time. Every waking minute.
“I never think of the reader,” the author said. “I always write for myself.”

“That’s why you are a very great author,” Follett said in a PBS interview with Charles Osgood, “and why I am a very rich author.”

Making It Easy for the Reader
My new book, WRITE EVERYTHING RIGHT! comes out next month.

In my research, I found a huge percentage of newspaper journalists are sloppy, stupid, boring writers who do not think of their readers.

The only people more incompetent are illiterate newspaper editors who allow this crap to go out.

For example, I was working on a story about cable news. The question I was asking (and answering):

In terms of viewership, are cable news channels viable places for advertisers?

I found the viewership numbers in Variety. Alas, as presented they were unreadable.

According to Nielsen data through Dec. 8, Fox News Channel averaged 1.774 million viewers in primetime (down 13% from 2012) and 297,000 adults 25-54 (down 30%). It was followed by MSNBC with 645,000 viewers and 203,000 adults 25-54 (down 29% in both); CNN with 578,000 (down 15%) and 187,000 adults 25-54 (down 16%); and HLN with 403,000 total viewer (up 21%) and 142,000 in the demo (up 27%).
—Rick Kissell, VARIETY, December 16, 2013 | 03:01PM PT

How can anyone make sense of this gobbledygook?

It takes time to think through how to present statistical matter. Please see the image in the media player at right for how to do it.

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His next book will be “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com or contact him at dennyhatch@yahoo.com.

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

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Comments
  • JenK135

    I don’t think your chart, which took you 45 minutes to create, is the best it can be. Maybe it’s not displaying correctly, but the "Adults 25-54" data should be its own column, next to the column for total viewership. That would make things crystal clear. You are completely correct in that the original paragraph form of the statistics is awful, but if you’re going to talk such smack about other people’s work, you’d better make sure your own rendition is pristine and clear, which your chart is not.